‘Eyimofe (This Is My Desire)’ Review: Always Hustling

The Nigerian function “Eyimofe” is about many alternative issues — migration, exploitation, misogyny — nevertheless it’s primarily about cash. Following the lives of two people in Lagos, each of whom dream of immigrating to Europe to higher their prospects, the movie traces an internet of Nigerian naira — forex wanted for hospital payments, housing payments, lawyer payments, limitless payments — that entraps the characters, sucking them in deeper the more durable they attempt to escape. They’re on the mercy of a metropolis the place each interplay is a transaction, and the place the myths of bootstrap capitalism come to die.

Mofe (Jude Akuwudike), who leads the primary of the movie’s two halves, lives in a cramped slum along with his sister and nephews, and works as a mechanic at a dangerously ramshackle restore store to avoid wasting up sufficient to immigrate to Spain. Rosa (Temi Ami-Williams), the main target of the movie’s second chapter, lives in the identical neighborhood along with her pregnant teenage sister. Rosa works two jobs, and but is pressured to take care of unsavory characters — together with a predatory businesswoman and a lovesick landlord — to pay her payments and procure visas to Italy.

Both Mofe and Rosa are struck by harrowing private tragedies that in a unique movie — and with completely different actors — would possibly take over the narrative. Both characters, nevertheless, preserve transferring with the stoicism of somebody for whom hardship is the norm. Besides, there isn’t actually any time to mourn: The payments proceed to pile up, with even demise involving a fancy paperwork and hefty value. Rosa sees a glimmer of hope when an American expat begins courting her, however she’s quickly pressured to succumb to the very stereotype his wealthy, condescending pals have of her: a gold digger. Survival and manipulation are blurred when one is so determined, leaving little room for something as honest as need.

With aerial pictures of Lagos’s bustling marketplaces and a sound design attuned to the town’s chatter, the administrators, Arie and Chuko Esiri, evocatively seize a milieu the place everybody — wealthy or poor — is at all times hustling and bargaining. The cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan shoots on heat, grainy 16-millimeter movie, which emphasizes not simply the colourful colours of Lagos but additionally its textures. The warmth, mud and crumbling facades of Mofe and Rosa’s world distinction with the rarefied air and shiny surfaces of the venues the place Rosa’s boyfriend takes her on dates. The portrait of life that emerges organically from this understated, observant method makes “Eyimofe” the uncommon social realist drama that conveys critique with out didacticism and empathy with out pity.

Eyimofe (This Is My Desire)
Not rated. In Nigerian English with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes. In theaters.